It’s just the latest milestone for Byington, who in March became the first woman to do play-by-play for games in the NCAA men’s tournament. She went on to call men’s and women’s soccer matches for NBC during the Tokyo Olympics after having announced games in the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The year before, Byington was part of the first all-female broadcast team to call an MLS match.
Byington, who has called games for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls and the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, is replacing longtime Bucks announcer Jim Paschke. He retired in May after 35 years with the team and over 2,000 telecasts.
“We are so excited to welcome Lisa to the Bucks family and to bring such a talented play-by-play announcer to our broadcast team,” Bucks and Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin said in a statement Wednesday. “Lisa’s extensive television broadcasting background, including her play-by-play work for high-level NCAA basketball on several national networks, makes her the perfect choice to take on this major role.”
Byington played basketball and soccer at Northwestern before embarking on a career in sports media that has included announcing and reporting roles for the Big Ten Network, CBS, ESPN, FOX Sports, FS1, the Pac-12 Network, the SEC Network and Turner Sports. In 2017, she became the first woman to do football play-by-play on BTN when she called a game between Northwestern and Bowling Green.
While describing the action on Bally Sports Wisconsin, Byington is set to work with analysts and former NBA players Marques Johnson and Steve Novak, as well as with sideline reporter Zora Stephenson. In April, Stephenson became the first woman to call a Bucks game when she filled in for Paschke for a matchup with the Charlotte Hornets.
Leandra Reilly broke a gender barrier by calling an NBA game in 1988, but since then, few women have been afforded the same opportunity. Among them was Meghan McPeak, who did play-by-play for the Monumental Sports Network during a Washington Wizards-Detroit Pistons preseason game 30 years later.
In March, McPeak was part of the NBA’s first all-female TV broadcast team when she was the play-by-play voice for a TSN broadcast of a Toronto Raptors-Denver Nuggets game. The same month saw the Sacramento Kings and NBC Sports California employ a TV crew composed entirely of women and nonbinary on-air personalities, including Krista Blunk on play-by-play, for a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“It’s great that we’re celebrating these moments now rather than celebrate it when we’re all retired or passed, so it’s great in that sense because we can enjoy it and we can see what people have to say, we can see the young generation that we may be inspiring,” McPeak, who calls games for the Washington Mystics and the Capital City Go-Go of the NBA’s G League, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in April.
“Just thinking of all of that, it sucks in the sense of it taking this long for it to happen,” continued McPeak. “You think of [Reilly], it had been 30 years since a woman did a preseason game. I say it sucks in the sense that it happens once and then we have to wait three more decades for it to happen again. … There shouldn’t be these five, 10-, 20-, 30-year lapses in between.”
On Wednesday, Byington said she was “absolutely thrilled for this opportunity, and the ability to work with a first-class franchise and a championship organization like the Milwaukee Bucks.”
“While we appreciate the significance of selecting Lisa, and we celebrate this historic moment,” said Feigin, “Lisa earned this position based on her extraordinary skills and experience. We look forward to Lisa becoming the voice of the Bucks.”